Dubai: Mosque washrooms in Dubai and Sharjah are being defaced by racist slurs, vulgar remarks and hate messages, a random XPRESS survey revealed.
The offensive posts — mostly too graphic to be shown or talked about here — were found scribbled behind toilet doors in restrooms attached to mosques.
XPRESS visited several restrooms at mosques in Dubai, including those in Deira, Bur Dubai, Karama, Mankhool, Satwa and Al Safa, and also mosques in Rolla and Abu Shagara in Sharjah. On an average, only four out of around 15 were found to be completely graffiti-free.
Vandals have attacked nationalities, political parties, religious groups and even glorified terrorism. Some notes, jotted down with permanent markers and ball pens, also promote gay sex and fornication in the UAE. Some of them were random curse words featuring sexually-explicit drawings.
"Long live Al Qaida!" one slogan read. In a restroom of a mosque in Karam a message in Hindi sought mobile numbers of those interested in joining the organisation.
In Sharjah's Abu Shagara neighbourhood, a mosque washroom message praised late Al Qaida leader Osama Bin Laden, claiming that he is still alive and well.
Another post in the same place claimed his recent killing was Western propaganda because Bin Laden "died in 2006".
Disgruntled elements also attacked the UAE, with one writing in Urdu at a mosque bathroom in Dubai's Mankhool district: "The UAE is the source of all problems in your life, why would you come to such a horrible place?"
Some examples of "for Muslims only" notices were also spotted in toilet facilities within mosque compounds in both cities. Some also bear initials of Hindu-centric groups like the RSS and BJP. A couple of posts, supposedly by Indians and Pakistanis, have also told each other to "get out".
Behind a toilet door in a mosque complex near Spinney's roundabout in Sharjah, one person requested "gay boys sms me", while another suggested expletives with "Bengali girls" because they have "big hip".
Some are calling for an end to the graffiti — by also scribbling it down. "Don't write abuse," one plea said. "Don't writing [sic] here, we are good community," another one requested.
It is not clear what action is being taken against the practice as many quotes date back several years. However, an official of the government body that oversees Dubai mosques — Islamic Affairs and Charitable Activities (IACAD) — said legal action will be taken.
Hassan Al Hashmi, head of mosque services section at IACAD, said: "We are sending our inspectors frequently to check mosque facilities and re-maintain them. "We urge the public not to vandalise mosques and show respect to all faiths. We plan to launch awareness campaigns on this issue, through sermons, posters, and publications."
He added: "Also, we plan to inform imams of all mosques in Dubai under IACAD supervision to be vigilant regarding vandalism attempts. Legal action will be taken against those found committing vandalism at mosques.
"It appears it is mostly anti-social elements from the youth who are behind this illegal practice.
"Mosques are there for you to come and purify your sins, not for earning more sins by violating its sanctity. If someone is keen to write, they can seek proper channels for that — washrooms or public property is not the place for that."
Furqan, a Bengali mosque assistant in Sharjah's Rolla district, said "Cleaners sometimes give up because the messages keep reappearing. It's a rotten habit."
Mohammad Rasoul Hashmi, an imam (prayer leader) in Sharjah, added: "I urge people to stop sinning and show respect. The mosque is a holy place for prayer, not for writing graffiti."
Graffiti on public property is banned by federal law and punishable by imprisonment and a fine.